Category Archives: Lake Okeechobee

Lake O Discharges 2023

St Lucie Canal, aka, C-44 at S-80, Ed Lippisch 1-22-23. ~Discharges began by ACOE from Lake O at 500 cfs on 1-22-23. For comparison, at worst times 5000 to 9000 cfs flooded the St Lucie on and off in 2013, 2016, 2018. 500cfs (cubic feet per second) is not good, but it is not high-level discharges. JTL

The St Lucie Canal, also known as, the C-44 Canal, is the property of the U.S. Government. Martin County public records show that in the early 1930s, as a result of the 1928 hurricane, the right of way of the Everglades Drainage District was taken as part of the Okeechobee Waterway.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers holds jurisdiction and decision making over the canal and the water that flows through it from basins and Lake Okeechobee. Since the great flood of 1947 and the creation of the Central and Southern Florida Plan, there has been a “local partner” in decision making. That partner today is named the South Florida Water Management District, formerly the Everglades Drainage District…

In a modern world, every week, there are conditions calls regarding Lake Okeechobee and the environmental envelope, etc.  As in all things, these calls start with the “higher ups” and then end with a public call. The public call is the ACOE Periodic Scientist Call. During this call, stakeholders share conditions and concerns from all over south and central Florida. Most participants are government people or elected officials, but also heads of NGOs and members of the public chime in.

Grey is environmental envelope for Lake O

The process generally works as such: after all these calls, the SFWMD, the local sponsor, puts out an operations statement or recommendation to the ACOE. All of this information is available on line, but its like trying to find a needle in hay stack.

SFWMD Ops_Position_Statement_Jan_17_23_2023

Of course the ACOE and the SFWMD have been communicating all week. At the end of the day, because the U.S. ACOE holds jurisdiction over the C-44 Canal the ACOE is the final decision maker. More than ever, though, they are listening and even seeking public input. This is refreshing!

Pulse to average 500cfs -releases to the SLR from LO, via ACOEO and https://eyeonlakeo.com, Todd Thurlow

The ACOEs has been announcing their decision on the Jacksonville District’s media call on Friday of the week of all the other calls. This past Friday, the day after the SFWMD operations report was submitted, and all the “calls”, January 20, 2023, the ACOE held its media call, and the decision to start discharging from Lake Okeechobee was made make Col. Booth.

https://www.usace.army.mil/About/Leadership/Bio-Article-View/Article/2768770/col-james-l-booth/

Going back a couple of years, Col. Kelly, at the ACOE, came up with an operations plan called a HAB DEVIATION or Harmful Algae Bloom Deviation. This was done after Governor Ron DeSantis put forth Executive Order 19-12 that did all possible to avoid harmful and toxic discharges to the northern estuaries, St Lucie and Caloosahatcee, as years 2013, 2016 and 2018 had been disasters. HAB DEVIATIONS, like all things Army Corp, is engineering-like and complicated, but goal was to allow a deviation from lake operations (LORS or LOSOM) if there was algae in the lake or it was possible there could be algae in the lake, like after a Category 4 hurricane stirs everything up and brings massive runoff…

I am not sure if what the ACOE is doing now qualifies as a technical HAB Deviation, but it is certainly in the spirit of one. Both SFWMD and ACOE have stated they are expecting a large post Ian cyanobacteria blue-green algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee this summer. High lake water in summer would set off releases so they are hopefully dodging a bullet by lowing the lake now.

Due to Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm, that obliterated the lower west coast of Florida, coming in just north of Sanibel Island and Ft Meyers, Lake Okeechobee has risen four feet since September 28, 2022 cresting at around 16.47 feet. Because the Herbert Hoover Dike was almost complete, the ACOE did not discharge right away. If the lake had been at the 15.50 limit as before dike completion, there would have been discharges, input or no input.

Yesterday, January 25, 2023, was the ribbon-cutting for the Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation. It took eighteen years. This does not mean there is unlimited allowance of water in Lake Okeechobee, but it allows for more flexibility as will LOSOM. Sediment has been settling in the lake since September/October.

I for one, appreciate the flexibility of the ACOE. In the old world when I entered in 2008, they just followed the book and opened the gates toxic algae or no toxic algae. Now there is awareness and thought. And water quality remains the responsibility of the state. If the ACOE believe/agree a HAB deviation is necessary after a Category 4 hurricane in order to try to avoid toxic discharges in summer when the lake often cooks into a toxic soup, I am all for it. I do not want to go through those type of years again!

These charts below from my brother Todd’s eyeonlakeo.com website show how water was discharged to the St Lucie in 2016, 2018, 2021, and 2022. Although the ACOE is discharging at 500 cfs average now to the SLR, all will be done to avoid another “Lost Summer!”

2016 Lost Summer 2

2018 Lost Summer 3

2021 nice summer even with LO releases (green)

2022 great summer, no releases LO

Photos of Ed Lippisch taken on Sunday, January 22, 2022, the day the 500 cfs discharges began to the St Lucie. These photos are baseline photos to compare to the future. I takes a day or more for discharge water to reach the St Lucie Inlet. The differences in these photos is due to tide and light.

SLR/IRL 1-22-23 at 11am, Ed Lippisch

SLR/IRL 1-22-23, 5:45pm

Part III -The Boon of the Huge Monster Ditch, St Lucie Canal

-Stuart News 50th Anniversary Edition, 1964.Today I will complete part three, the final portion of my transcription of an historic 1964 Stuart News, anniversary edition from my mother’s archives. She actually shared this article with me over a year ago and I was so taken by it that I thought it may be an inspiration for a book. I never got around to it, thus now I am sharing on my blog as part of my 2023 new year’s resolution to write more and learn more about the St Lucie Canal. 2024 is the official 100 year anniversary of the St Lucie Canal according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

Here are links to Parts I and Part II.

~Interesting references in part three of the article are the mentioning of a “release canal,” south to the Everglades, something that never materialized; reference, once again, to cutting edge “scientific water control” and the amazing success of the agriculture industry; 1933 noted as the first extreme discharge year from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River and damaging effects to fisheries and tourism; and in the final paragraph, a future plan linking a new “C-23 Canal on Martin County’s northern border with a major channel which would extend westward to Lake Okeechobee, with a side link to St Lucie Canal, and another channel from St. Lucie Canal southeastward down toward Pratt & Whitney and the Loxahatchee Marshes;” Gulp!

This is a reference to part of the canal system proposed in the 1948 and many following editions of the Central and Southern Florida Plan that thankfully was never built. This reference also leads me to believe that I was incorrect in part two when I wrote the article was written around 1937 or 1920 in part one. With these references to C-23, the article must have been composed after the great flood of 1947 as it is referring to the Central and Southern Florida Project of 1948.  I am learning all the time as I sludge through this stuff. The St. Lucie Canal has had so many face lifts! It is hard to know what cut they are referring to!

~As we learn, we are more informed and able to change the future of this huge “ditch” that has defined, benefited, and destroyed the region of our St Lucie River.

So here is a transcription of Part III.

I have entitled my post “The Boon of the Huge Monster Ditch, St Lucie Canal,” as both terms “huge” and “monster,” are noted in full article. To me, the canal is a monster continuing to haunt and terrify. And just like in the movies, I know that until I meet this monster face to face, it wont go away. I hope you will encounter it with me.

You can click on images to enlarge.

Begin transcript paragraphs 11-25:

The great hurricane of 1928, which drowned about 4000 persons in the Lake Okeechobee area, resulted in the widening and deepening of both the St. Luice Canal and the Caloosahatchee River as well as major outlets from the lake. The widened and deepened canal was officially dedicated at ceremonies headed by Secretary of Commerce, Daniel Roper on March 22, 1937.

In the intervening years, the canal’s “good and bad” points have been the cause of growth in the agricultural lands of the interior and of damages to the fisheries and resorts on the coast in periods of excessive discharge. Today, as ever since 1933, when the first heavy discharge from hurricane rains was experienced, efforts are under way to so shape the discharge so that the canal’s benefit can be enjoyed without attendant harm. The U. S. Engineer Corp’s plans for a higher lake level by diking the entire lake may result in less necessity for discharge and a long-range plan has been advanced for diversion of excess water to Everglades National Park by means of a relief-valve canal.

However in the half century which has ensued since the canal was approved, one indisputable fact not clearly seen in the beginning has emerged stage by stage to justify it.

It is “scientific agriculture by water control.”

Thousands of pleasure craft and hundreds of barges, shrimp boats, and other commercial craft use the waterway today, but it never did develop into the “thriving artery of commerce” that was predicted in which ocean ships would sail up to Stuart and load the products of the Everglades Empire brought to the coast by the St. Luice Canal.

Nor did a plan advocated during World War II jell out to make it a major barge and oil transport canal to escape the submarines which infested the Straits of Florida, Yucatan Channel and the Gulf Stream.

What did “jell out” was an expansion all along the route of the the scientific water control for agriculture that was  proven at Port Mayaca by that pioneering agricultural beginning in 1925.

G.C. Troup and Troup Brothers at Indiantown on their former 20,000-acre holdings, demonstrated that the combination of irrigation and good drainage would unlock agricultural riches. Today the Minute Maid and Hood corporations are among the huge citrus firms which have planted some 10,000 acres of new citrus and the largest lemon grove in the world on former Troup lands and lands opened to agriculture through water control by P. L. Hinson and others.

On both sides of the St. Lucie Canal, in the entire twenty-five miles of its length, there are spreading pastures, ranches where blooded cattle graze, and the Indiantown area also has some of the country’s largest diaries.

The Bessemer firm that proved it could be done is “in there pitching” with some of the most outstanding modern developments including Westbury Farms 1, 2, and 3, the new Westbury Farms Valencia Groves on the south side of the canal, and the spreading Green Ridge Groves on the north side. George Oliver who manages the giant spread and Michael Phipps of the major corporation are proud of the agricultural and ranching growth but prouder still of St. Lucie Training Park, unique race horse training facility where, “hopefuls” of some of the nation’s top stables get their “running” starts.

They can be found at dawn watching the work-outs on the oval track. Both are skilled polo players.

“Scientific water control with ample supplies from the St. Lucie Canal, and drainage into the canal, is the key to our county’s solid growth,” commented Oliver.

Currently being pushed by Martin County agricultural interests is a new over-all water control plan for the county which would spread the advantages of irrigation and drainage to areas not continuous to the St Lucie Canal.

The new plan would link in C-23 Canal on Martin County’s north border, where huge  citrus planting have recently been made, with a major channel which would extend westward to   Lake Okeechobee, with a side link to St Lucie Canal, and another channel from St. Lucie Canal southeastward down toward Pratt & Whitney and the Loxahatchee Marshes. Private landowners would link in with these new canals by irrigation pumps and drainage outlet as they have done along the St. Luice Canal.

-End of transcript and article JTL

Part II: The Boon of the Monster Ditch, St. Lucie Canal

Today’s post is the second part of a story. A story from the 1964 50th Anniversary Edition of the Stuart News. Signalizing Half a Century of Growth and Progress in Martin County, Florida.” It is a huge special edition newspaper, 110 pages!

The article I am sharing is on page 6-H and is titled ” St. Lucie Canal Approved in 1914, Is Boon to Agriculture Here. Huge Citrus Growth Along Water Route; Mayaca Groves First.” I feel this remarkable article given to my mother for her history archives by family friend and real estate man, Ronnie Nelson, must be shared. As the 100 year “anniversary”of the St. Luice Canal is next year in 2024. At this time, I must state I am finding many different dates as to the completion date of the canal, but at this point I am sticking with an article from the Department of Environmental Protection, 1916-1924. (Ecosummary 2001, C-44 Canal)

Learning about the St. Lucie Canal can be confusing because it was “rebuilt” or “improved”  and, believe it or not, “celebrated” a few times. I think this article included in the 50th anniversary edition was written as the canal approached its second rebirth in 1937.

There is so much to learn about how the St. Lucie Canal was perceived in earlier times. And it is only through understanding the past, that we can create a better water future for today and for tomorrow.

Part I  Paragraphs 1-4 

Part II, transcription continued, paragraphs 5-11

1964 Stuart News, 50th Anniversary Issue, Thurlow Archives
1964, Stuart News 6-H and 7-H

Transcription begins:

“The completion of this monster ditch will mean much for the Everglades, for south Florida in general, and for Stuart in particular. The improvement of the St. Lucie Inlet and harbor will thus make Stuart the gateway to the Everglades, and millions of dollars worth of agricultural timber, fish, and livestock products will pass through the canal transferring at Stuart onto ocean-going vessels. The canal is, according to contract, to be completed in four years.

First tangible result of the canal for large-scale agriculture was the pioneering effort of the Port Mayaca development back around 1925, created by Bessemer Properties, Inc., a Phipps company which saw the opportunities for agriculture through scientific water control by tapping on to St. Lucie Canal with pumps to provide irrigation in dry spells. At the same time, a series of canals discharged excess water into the canal during wet spells.

Port Mayaca Valencia orange groves today represents the first big-scale successful planting of citrus in Martin County.

Port Mayaca could well be said to be the test plot on which millions were spent to prove, by trial and error, with the best possible scientific agricultural advice, what could be done by enlisting the aid of the man-made waterway.

Paul M. Hoenshel, now a resident of Stuart, was the first agricultural manager in the Port Mayaca development. He was backed by the vision and guidance of such able Phipp’s representatives in Florida as Paul R. Scott and Roy M Hawkins, as was Thomas Gartland when he took over the management in later years.

Port Mayaca was an outstanding “first” because it squarely faced up to the fact that the problems of drainage and water control must be solved if agriculture was to be successful in Martin County. The Phipps interests took the property of several thousand acres and divided it into forty-acre fields separated by drainage ditches, roads, and windbreaks.

About 100 miles of those ditches were dug in the Port Mayaca development, all linked by giant pumps to the life saving waters of the canal. Since Port Mayaca contained both muck lands and sand lands, it was an ideal test tube not only for for its initial 600 acres of Valencia oranges but also for various truck crops, gladiolus- then a major flower crop before chrysanthemums came along- and for experiments in the right grasses and mineral additives to make pasture lands where livestock could thrive…”

~End of transcription. To be continued. JTL

Google Maps 2023 shows Port Mayaca’s location on/near Lake Okeechobee, in Martin County, FL. Blue Dot is area of confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon leading to St Lucie Inlet.

Article about the history of Port Mayaca and Cypress Lodge by the late historian, Alice Luckhardt.

Field Trip of a Lifetime: EAA Reservoir/STA

At 8am on Friday, July 29, 2022, a group of realtors, environmentalists, reporters, and professionals met at SFWMD headquarters in West Palm Beach. The day had finally arrived for our field trip to the EAA Reservoir/Storm Water Treatment Area south of Lake Okeechobee. The Army Corp will be building the reservoir scheduled to be complete in 2029, and the SFWMD is under construction with the storm water treatment area or “STA” to be complete in 2023. The project, became part of CEPP, the Central Everglades Planning Project, and was reborn through public outcry due to toxic summers and the grit and leadership of Martin County’s 2017/18 Senate President, Joe Negron (SB10). And thus today, like a phoenix, the EAA Reservoir and STA is rising, and will one day be the first structure built to encompass sending cleansed Lake O water south to the Everglades. Make no mistake, this reservoir is the greatest hope for the health of the Northern Estuaries that for decades have been subjected to damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

Well located between the Miami and New River Canals, and neighboring the A-1 Flow Equalization Basin, the 6500 acre STA’s gigantic water cleaning marsh and the 10,500 acre, 23 feet deep reservoir, will be a game changer. Listen the videos below by SFWMD Executive Director for insights.

What a day! What an experience!It was sobering to make the long drive from headquarters through the Everglades Agricultural Area and historic City of Belle Glade knowing this is where Marjorie Stoneman Douglas’ “River of Grass” once flowed. Today Taco Bells replace sawgrass. Over an hour later arriving at the construction trailer along Highway 27, SFWMD engineers Tim Harper, Alexis San-Miguel, Jennifer Leeds, Leslye Waugh and Drew Bartlett were available to educate us. Next we returned to the vehicles dodging the hot sun, weaving our way through the sugar cane fields that will soon be replaced with one of the most extensive environmental restoration projects not just in the country, but in the world! For myself, having been visited in 2019 and 2021, it was inspiring to see and compare the EAA Reservoir/STA today -now really coming out of the ground and taking form with the inflow/outflow canal (across the top) and C-640 (between STA and reservoir). Of course, there are controversies as there always are; this is the essence and history of Everglades Restoration. I am confident, that these water and cultural concerns will be ameliorated in friendly fashion, just as SFWMD mascot Freddy the Alligator emphasizes. I for one, am thankful for all who got us here, particularly Joe Negron. Through participation, education, and inspiration, we will continue the work to “rebuild and restore” the waters of South Florida.

Group portrait with SFWMD mascot Freddy the Alligator L-R: Max Chesnes, reporter TCPalm; Jennifer Leeds, SFWMD Bureau Chief-Ecosystem Restoration Planning;  Anne Schmidt (realtor), Deb Drum, Director PBC En. Res. Dept; Todd Thurlow, (website eyeonlakeo); Eve Samples, Exec. Dir. Friends of the Everglades; HB Warren, (realtor); JTL, SFWMD G.B.; Kathy LaMartina, SFWMD Reg. Rep.;  Rob Lord, former President of Martin Health/Clevland Clinic); Crystal Vanderweit, photographer TCPalm;  Alexis San-Miguel, Section Leader EAA Res./STA; John Gonzalez, (realtor); Ike Crumpler, (realtor assoc. consultant /Upstairs Communications; Drew Bartlett, Ex. Dir. SFMWD; Gil Smart, Friends of the Everglades;  Leslye Waugh, SFWMD Eco. Restoration Admin.; Sean Cooley, SFWMD Communications Dir.; Kym Hurchalla, Friends of the Everglades. -SFWMD official group shot 🙂

  • Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Features
  • Reservoir aka “A2 Reservoir”: 10,500 acres with 240,000 acre-foot storage at about 23 feet deep
  • STA aka “A-2 Stormwater Treatment Area”: 6,500 acres
  • Adds 160,000 to CEPP’s 210,000 for a total of 370,000 average annual acre-feet of new water flowing through to the central Everglades ~ ACOE 

Blue line = path from SFWMD Headquarters in West Palm Beach to the EAA R/STA and back-My vehicle: JTL, Alexis, Gil, Max, Crystal, Drew, Todd, John, HB, Kym, Eve.-Construction Manager Principal, Tim Harper, shares maps, information and answers questions.-SFWMD Exec. Dir Drew Bartlett explains videos 1&2 -extremely helpful!

VIDEO #1 DREW BARLETT

#VIDEO 2 DREW BARTLETT

 

-Exec. Dir. Drew Bartlett and JTL arrive on site: smile and wave to Freddy the Alligator! “Freddy the Alligator has come to say hello!” Freddy helps other animals during drought and he and his friends need more and clean water! -Reviewing the site is overwhelming; the reservoir and STA by vehicle cover over eight miles!-Dyno-mite! C-640 Canal divides the STA and the Reservoir. We were treated to a blast during lunchtime. Guest, Eric Eichenberg, CEO Everglades Foundation, and I prepare. We have been waiting for this a long, long time! 

-Realtor Anne’s new hat! -John Gonzalez, JTL, HB Warren, Deb Drub, Rob Lord, Eve Samples -Realtors: John Gonzalez, Anne Schmidt, Ike Crumpler, and HB Warren-all worked in Stuart when the horrific harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee destroyed the estuary and home sales in 2013, 2016 and 2018. “We want clean water!” -My brother, Todd Thurlow, author of eyeonlakeo website, stands before the C-640 Canal that divides the STA and the Reservoir is also part of Friends of the Everglades. This photo was for my mother. 🙂-Thank you SFWMD STAFF! -with David Anderson, RYAN inspector, whom I had met on my previous trip. Thanks David! -TCPalm’s photographer, Crystal Vanderweit, JTL, and environmental reporter, Max Chesnes.-Drew Bartlett, E.D. SFWMD and Bradley Watson, Everglades Foundation.Great that Bradley and Eric Eichenberg joined us too! -JTL and Eve Samples, Friends of the Everglades contemplating the future…-Site photographs, Strorm Water Treatment Area.-My favorite photo of the day, Kym Hurchalla, granddaughter of Martin County’s late environmental leader, Maggy Hurchalla, looks over at  what will become the STA. If anything, everglades restoration is generational…-“Black Gold” from the site. Muck, scraped and stored, now used to grow vegetation to protect the levees.-Everything feels big out here! Everything  is big out here! -Sugarcane fields transforming into the EAA Reservoir/STA…

Thank you to SFWMD‘s Flicker and my brother, Todd Thurlow, for photos included in this post – all are public!

Senate Bill 2508 in Black, White and Toxic Algae Green

Toxic algae under the Evans Crary Bridge, St Lucie River, Sewall’s Point 2016. There have not been long-standing, major destructive discharges to the St Lucie or Caloosahtchee since 2018. We certainly do not want them to return.

What is Senate Bill 2508? So it puts a constraint on how you optimize and operate Lake Okeechobee. It elevates water supply above all other system-wide objectives for lake operations. Three years of collective stakeholder work on LOSOM would be overridden forcing water supply guarantees in the EAA that consists primarily of sugarcane. Oh yeah, and if the SFWMD doesn’t conform, no money for CERP projects.

Today I offer Senate Bill 2580 Environmental Resources, which is part of Senate Bill 2500 Appropriations in “black and white.”

First, I share the easy to understand “Background and Effects” of the Bill that was given to me by South Florida Water Management staff at the beginning of the Governing Board Meeting, Thursday, February 10, 2022.

Second, you can read the entire: Senate Bill 2508 Environmental Resources

Third, you can read the entire Senate Bill 2500 Appropriations 

Fourth, highlights of Senate Bill 2508 Environmental Resources include lines 246-273 and 336-351

Fifth, highlights of Senate Bill 2500 Appropriations include section 1647.

Sixth, I offer the response of Governor Ron DeSantis that was also provided to me at the beginning of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board meeting held Thursday, February 10, 2022. It is time to fight for our estuaries once again. Watch the SFWMD meeting here statrting at 1:23.

C-44 Reservoir Being Filled with Lake O Water

C-44 Reservoir, Martin County, FL, 1-19-22, aerial by Ed Lippisch. (Plane: Piper Lance belonging to Dr. Shaun Engebretsen.)Last Wednesday, on January 19, 2022, I received a text from my husband, Ed. The text was brief: “C-44 with water.”

I looked at the message and the photographs and being swamped with reading, I ignored both.

On Saturday, January 22, my brother, Todd,  texted me: “They have been bringing lake water into the C-44 basin most of the week via S-308 at Port Mayaca. Now it’s closed and S-80 is open at 811 cfs? This is called “local basin runoff,” to the St Lucie, hopefully just a little blip.” This time, I put down my reading. I called my contacts at the SFWMD and the ACOE to find out what was going on. The ACOE was filling up the C-44 Reservoir via a “high”Lake Okeechobee through S-308 and the C-44 Canal.  After a few days, a rainstorm hit, so the ACOE opened the S-80 gates at St Lucie Locks and Dam to get the C-44 Canal level down. Hmmm?

The photos taken from the Piper Lance show the C-44 Reservoir as it was filled on January 19th, 2022. It must be much higher now, six days later.

The filling -for the first time- of the C-44 Reservoir is historic. The C-44 Reservoir is the first major CERP project that was completed by the ACOE and their partners – right here in Martin County.

Part of Indian River Lagoon South, this massive project, and in the future, the EAA Reservoir, give real hope for a better water future: more water flowing south to the Everglades and fewer damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Check out these photographs!

~FULL, 1-19-22.

Below, I have included three photos from November 26, 2021 that Ed took when he still had the Beechcraft Baron. These photos were taken when the C-44 Reservoir was just a” little bit full” in November after the ACOE’s Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on November 19, 2021.

~NOT SO FULL, 11-26-21.

THE PHOTOS BELOW ARE SHARED TO COMPARE THE “FULLER” PHOTOS ABOVE FROM JANUARY 19, 2022,  TO THE “NOT SO FULL” PHOTOS OF NOVEMBER 26, 2021. Ed Lippisch.

SFWMD canal map, Martin & St Lucie Counties.

 

Lidar St Lucie #nolakeo

Lidar image South Florida

NOAA describes Lidar – Light Detection and Ranging- as a remote sensing method used to examine the surface of the Earth. My brother, http://eyeonlakeo.com, Todd Thurlow, shared such an image, of South Florida, during the October meeting of the Rivers Coalition http://riverscoalition.org. Looking at the image, Todd noted that the elevations displayed have not changed in over 5000 years. One can clearly “see” where the water used to go and not go. The tiny St Lucie River on Florida’s east coast was isolated from Lake Okeechobee by a ridge only to be connected to the lake in 1923 by the C-44 Canal -that can also be seen in this image. This why on the east coast we stand strong in saying #nolakeo. We never were and prefer to be unconnected.

Aerial Update St Luice, Jupiter, Lake O-August 20-21, 2021

VISUAL UPDATE-AERIALS ST LUCIE, JUPITER, LAKE O pilots Ed Lippisch and Scott Kuhns

FOR FULL EVERGLADES’ SYSTEM ECOLOGICAL CONDITIONS REPORT SFWMD 8-18-21

SuperCub, Scott Kuhns, August 20, 2021, 9am

-St Lucie Inlet to Atlantic looking beautiful at this time day. Note nearshore reefs.

-Crossroads’ confluence of St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, S. Sewall’s Point – note lack of lush seagrass meadows

Jupiter Inlet and Loxahatchee River– heavy rains causing discoloration 

Beechcraft Baron, Ed Lippisch, August 21, 2021, 3:30pm

-Looking towards Stuart over Sewall’s Point, SLR/IRL. Sailfish Point Marina left  corner.-Sailfish Flats- note shades of seagrasses but no lush meadows-brown coloration -Over Atlantic-Indian River Lagoon lies east of Sewall’s Point, St Lucie River lies west -Various views

-One can see river’s proximity to Witham Field in Stuart. These photos show darkness of St Lucie due to stormwater runoff off lands and canals C-23. C-24, and C-44. No Lake O discharges.

-St Lucie Inlet 

-Stuart Sandbar with many boaters. Water is dark with stormwater and canal runoff but remains to recreational standards.

-West now over S-308, Port Mayaca, Lake O – no visible algae from altitude of 1500 feet. Satellite images do show algae on west and middle of lake. SEE my brother Todd’s website  EYEONELAKEO for all info. -Although water looks good at St Luice Inlet at an incoming tide, the estuary is suffering from too much input. Read Florida Oceanographic’s update for details.

Today, August 22, 2021 Lake Okeechobee is at 14.39 feet. This recent TCPalm article by Ed Killer gives insights based on a recent media conference with Col. Kelly of the ACOE.

Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (Public)

The St Lucie’s Three Front War

Aerial SLR/IRL near St Lucie Inlet, courtesy Dr Scott Kuhns, 8-11-21.One of the difficult things about trying to keep an eye on the St Lucie River’s health is that destructive forces are coming from so many directions. It’s basically a “three front war.” During and after heavy rains, water is water pouring in, unfiltered, from the northwest, C-23, C-24, and C-25, and also from the southwest through C-44.  When things are really bad, and the lake is high, the ACOE can discharge Lake Okeechobee as well. Some may consider this a two front war as Lake O and C-44 basin water are discharged through the same canal (C-44) but as they are separate “animals,” I consider it three.

So in recent weeks, as the rainy season has arrived, C-23, 24, and C-25 have been discharging stormwater runoff form the northwest, and now that C-44 is lower than Lake O (14. 38 feet), the ACOE’s operation is discharging C-44 too. Not yet, has the ACOE started discharging from Lake Okeechobee.

If you have been out on the river you have probably noticed the color is darker and it is going to get even darker as C-44 basin runoff also enters the river.

There are CERP projects set to improve these situations, the C-44 Reservoir and the C-23/24/25 Reservoirs. The C-44 Reservoir will be on line by the end of this year so long as when the ACOE starts filling it up this October, all goes well. The C-23/24/25 are in design and if the economy holds out and our advocacy continues should be done by 2030 or a couple of years before. This is great news!  Also the EAA Reservoir, that will accept waters form Lake Okeechobee sending south, should break ground this year and  is slated to be complete by 2028. The SFWMD is already well into building the storm water treatment component as the local partner in all of these projects.  Thus relief is on the horizon, but until these all up and running, it’s the same old —-.

SFWMD basin map for SLR, note canals and Lake O connections.

Below is a slide from the most recent SFWMD Governing Board Meeting on August 12. Mr Glenn’s slide shows how much runoff was entering the St Lucie. The number is 2432 cubic feet per second daily flow. Over 1400 or 2000 is “off the cuff” considered “destructive.” And now C-44 basin is coming in on top of this. This began through S-80 this Saturday, thus the C-44 runoff is unaccounted for in this slide.

We can look at my brother, Todd Thurlow’s, website and see in real time (almost) how much C-44 water is entering the St Lucie. Yesterday, when I texted Todd at 11pm it was 1049.18 acre feet on 8/14 and 1043.31 acre feet on 8/15. Sorry to be going from cfs to acre feet, but the bottom line is -this is a ton of water that never entered the St Lucie before the canals were dug. These canals are what is what is killing our river as they carry agricultural fertilizers and pesticides together with all the pollution coming from our yards: septic tank effluent, fertilizer, pesticides-FDOT road runoff too!

Use Todd’s calculator to claculate acre feet and cfs

These aerial were taken from the SuperCub by Dr Scott Kuhns last Wednesday, August 11, 2021, and this is before Saturday when S-80 began discharging to the St Lucie for the C-44 “basin.” Bottom line, the St Lucie is now in a two front war against the northern and western canals, let’s fight for it not to become three. #NoLakeO to the St Lucie. Compare what the river looked on July 28, 201 and as the rains began. 

Aerials August 11, 2021, Dr Scott Kuhns

Crossroads SLR/IRL-South Sewall’s Point-Looking south towards Jupiter Narrows-St Lucie Inlet with plume but still able to see nearshore reefs north of inlet-St Lucie Inlet with plume but plenty of blue water-note this is prior to C-44 basin runoff-St Lucie Inlet

LAKE OKEECHOBEE same day. Algae visible in lake off Port Mayaca and S-308 structure-View of S-308 no algae visible from this altitude-Close up of water near S-308. See GPS below.

RAIN RAIN RAIN

Friday night, August 13, 2021, my rain-gage in South Sewall’s Point overflowed! More the 7 inches of rain fell in about three hours causing flash flooding in Martin County, FL. These rains are now exiting our canals.

Viewing Algae on Recent Flights Across Lake Okeechobee

Viewing Algae on Recent Flights Across Lake Okeechobee

Beechcraft, Baron

My husband, Ed, flew twice recently over Lake Okeechobee on his way to Lee County from Martin County. Once on August 8, and again on August 10, 2021. I asked Ed to snap a few photos to document what the lake looked like from the air. In the images below you can see Ed’s flight path and pictures taken. As Ed says, “the lake is lighting up,” his expression for algae growth. To see daily, easy to find and easy to read satellite Lake O algae images, please view my brother’s website eyeonlakeo. We continue to document Lake Okeechobee and to fight its destructive discharges. On call since 2013, there is no giving up!

JTL

August 8, 2021

August 10, 2021

ACOE Power Point: Preferred Alternative, Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM)

ACOE Power Point Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM)

This pdf file is being shared for those who may not have attended yesterday’s web meeting. Please see link in blue below for power point slides as presented by Col. Andrew Kelly on August 9, 2021. This is process is for a new Lake Okeechobee operating schedule moving beyond “CC.” I know it is confusing. But reading the slides will help!

LOSOM Preferred Alternative 9AUG21

 

 

And the Rains Come Down; St Luice with No #LakeO

Ed, Scott, and I, part of your River Warrior team since 2013, continue to visually document the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon by air.  Although due to algae at the gates of Port Mayaca the ACOE’s lake schedule has not  subjected the St Lucie River to Lake Okeechobee discharges since April 10, 2021, the rains and stormwater runoff from surrounding lands and canals C-23, C-24 are flowing. I know I am not an official keeper of rain, however, the rain gauge in my garden has displayed significant rain over Sewall’s Point in the past weeks. See ACOE & SFWMD recent official documents below.

ACOEPeriodic_Scientists_Call_2021-08-03

SFWMDOps_Position_Statement_Jul_27_Aug_2_2021

July 30, 2021

August 4, 2021

Today I will share aerials from Dr Scott Kuhns. A view from the Super-Cub. These aerials reflect a visual change in the water color due to the rain. The water is darker and contains sediment, and all other that runs off roads and lawns, and agriculture fields out west. Sometimes over a million acre-feet of discharge a years can come from C-23 and C-24 alone! We do not need any Lake O discharges on top of this. C-44 runoff (see canal map at end of this blog post)  is probably on the way as when the canal level is lower than the lake it is usually made to flow in our direction. Right now the lake is at 13.87 feet. Two tropical systems are being watched. Hopefully, we will not have a hurricane! The river over all has been looking great! Seagrasses slowly returning. Better fishing reports.

It is important we stay on top of things. Continue to advocate! Learn all you need to know about #LakeO on my brother Todd’s website eyeonlakeo.

Ok, here are Scotts photos. Compare the difference to July 28, 2021.

~Super-Cub

Dr Scott Kuhns, SLR/IRL July 30, 2021at 8:30am.

Dr Scott Kuhns, SLR/IRL, yesterday, August 5, 2021 at 10:00 am. Note Atlantic remains blue in color and St Lucie Inlet as well but there is a plume.  The estuary and Crossroads of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon-they are more impacted. The final photo of St Lucie Locks and Dam’s S-80 structure is inland and thank goodness remains closed!  Thank you Dr Scott Kunhs for being our eye in the sky and longtime River Warrior documenter!

We’ll see you next week, weather allowing. JTL